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Fuyu, Who Are You? Persimmons 101

(from an article I wrote for Food & Home Magazine)

Some years ago, in the fall, I came across a sign up against a well used wooden fruit crate on a rickety table at the Saturday Farmer’s Market written by the farmer that read “Were you traumatized as a child by eating an unripe persimmon? Fear not! Fuyu persimmons are always yummy! Regain your happy childhood!” I felt for the guy! Persimmons do have an awful reputation and he’s fighting an uphill battle just getting people to even try one.

I have learned to love the taller acorn-shaped, Hachiya persimmons once they’re ripe, but before they turn into little water balloons of yummy pudding they have a way too high level of tannin and can be horrible. I couldn't believe he expected me to eat a hard persimmon. Persimmons are plentiful and so beautiful; they do happen to be my favorite color; we use them a great deal as décor but I admit I hadn't even considered eating one because I thought they weren't ripe; the little flat bottomed pumpkin shaped ones never seemed to get soft; or in my mind, ripe…The farmer held out the little taste he’d cut for me with such conviction, he wasn't backing down, I couldn't say no and gave the little hard fuyu persimmon chunk he offered me a try. I was so impressed!! They are delicious, it was love at first bite, I had no idea there was such a dramatic difference in the two kinds of persimmons. 

Outside of being a unique snack item the hachiya persimmons have limited culinary use. The squat, rounder fuyu however has proven to be a fantastic addition to our fall menus and I've had such fun finding ways to incorporate them into my cooking and sharing my discovery of this bright, cheerful little representative of the fall season. Crisp like an apple, sweet like a pear the fuyu persimmon has taken over about 80% of the persimmon market so apparently the word is spreading, however, the crops are primarily funneled into ethnic markets where the demand is higher.

There is no need to peel a fuyu (pronounced ‘FOO-you’) persimmon and there is no core, seeds or pit. With very little fussing required they are a cinch to add to salads, make gorgeous fruit salsas for grilled fish and cook beautifully into cobblers. The ones grown locally here are incredibly sweet and pair well with cheeses; they almost have a nutty flavor which is offset by soft hints of honey and apricot so they’re a natural combination with nuts too.

Tossed Baby Greens with Fuyu Persimmons, Goat Cheese and Toasted Pecans

4-6 servings

Striking, yummy & easy; this salad is a great introduction to persimmons.

8 loosely packed cups salad greens, triple rinsed and dry

½ cup toasted pecan (recipe follows)

4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

3 fuyu persimmons, wedge sliced; like tomatoes

½ cup balsamic vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Toasted Pecans

This will yield more than you need for one salad, they make great cocktail munchies and store well for the next salad.

1 egg white

¼ cup sugar

pinch of salt

4 ½ cups whole shelled pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a large sheet pan with vegetable oil. Whisk the egg white until foamy add the rest of the ingredients and toss to coat. Spread evenly on the sheet pan and bake 6 minutes. Pull out and flip them around with a spatula, bake again until fragrant and toasted. I prefer them whole in the salad. Store left over toasted nuts in an air tight jar or bag.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 small shallot, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ cup great balsamic vinegar

1 heaping Tb. Country style Dijon mustard

juice of half a lemon

¾ cup olive oil

Whisk, shake or whirl all the ingredients in the blender, as you choose.

Warm Bay Scallops and Persimmon Salad

4 servings

Pure heaven, a really clean and refreshing, delectable meal; the scallops are rich and sweet and the Orange Dressing lights up the flavor of the persimmons.

8 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves, triple rinsed and dry

3 fuyu persimmons, diced

½ cup diced red onion

1 lb. fresh bay scallops, dried with paper towels

1 Tb. olive oil

Fresh Orange Dressing, (recipe follows)

3 Tb. pine nuts, toasted

 Plate the spinach and top with the diced persimmons & diced red onion. Heat a sauté pan over high heat until nearly smoking. Add the olive oil and the bay scallops, season with a bit of salt & fresh ground pepper and toss till no longer opaque. Spoon hot scallops over the salad plates and finish with the fresh orange dressing and a sprinkle of pine nuts.

Fresh Orange Dressing 

Yield 1 ½ cups

½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

2 Tb. frozen orange juice concentrate

2 Tb.  honey

1Tb. Dijon mustard

½ t. allspice

½ t. salt

¼ t. pepper

5 oz vegetable oil

1t. orange zest (optional)

 If you are squeezing the orange yourself it is easier to take off the zest with a micro plain zester first before cutting and squeezing the orange. Put all the ingredients in a jar and shake, rattle & roll.

Fuyu Persimmon Salsa

Delicious and colorful; perfect for grilled salmon

4  fuyu persimmons, diced

¼ cup red onion, chopped

1 jalapeño grilled, seeded, minced

1 Anaheim chili, grilled, seeded, minced

2 Tb. fresh chopped basil

3 Tb. fresh cilantro

2 Tb. lemon juice

½ Tb. olive oi

To grill the chilies, just use tongs and the open flame on your stove, when charred on all sides put them in a plastic bag to steam a bit. Once cool to the touch you can push off the charred skin, seed and chop them. Toss together the rest of the ingredients and salt & pepper to taste.

Lynette La Mere is the Proprietor / Executive Chef of Pure Joy Catering


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